I hung up the goggles in return for the helmet today, and saddled up at 6:45am for a 70K excursion to Ft. Myers Beach. I anticipated that there is a group ride that will be traveling the same route as I, and thought I might be able to hang on the back. (for a little while at least)
I loaded my bike with one frozen water bottle, and one normal one. I started from Pelican Marsh, and crossed Hwy 41 into a neighborhood which leads to Vanderbilt beach rd. A right turn on Vanderbilt road takes you Bonita Beach rd. which is the last turn for the rest of the route until turning around in Ft. Myers. I cruised along the quiet Bonita Beach rd., which eventually turned into a wide open road with water on both sides. Around the doggie beach park, there was a guy on a tri -bike that was hammering away at his own TT pace. He was 'older' looking, and I am sure was in high training mode for some race he was doing. As I clicked away the miles, I was just about to cross over an over pass, when I hear and see a very fast double pace line staring to blow by me. It was an enormous crowd of, I'd say 30 guys. (no gals that I could see) I began to increase my pedal RPMs a bit and checked back a few times to see where the end of the train might be. Ahhh...I noticed that the bigger cyclists were in the back, so it's time to hop on. I think one really large one had had enough, and he was immediately dropped on the overpass. I got behind a guy who was on a nice Cervelo, and he was in his aero bars, and was keeping a good distance from the last rider of the pack, and holding his own line. I figured this was a good place to be, and sucked his wheel for as long as I possible could, which lasted about 2 or so miles. After I felt my body max out, I let go, and cut the line.
I had a feeling I'd see this group coming the opposite direction at some point and maybe try again. I continued down Estero road, and after I came over the last big overpass, I did not see that group. They were flying! And to think that 20 years ago, I'd would have stayed attached to them.
I looked at my watch, and an hour and 15min. had passed, so I knew I was getting closer to the bridge at Ft. Myers beach. The road was busier, and there were quaint side road coffee shops or cafes lining the streets. At that point I saw the large peleton coming the opposite direction. I wanted to be able to safely cross the road and get on the back without having to work too hard. There was a very large truck barreling behind me, so I road up onto the side walk to give him room. It was perfect timing because after he passed, I could then cross the road just as the last person passed by me. The peleton looked slightly thinner in numbers. I sat on the back and cruised with them for a while. I was able to handle one acceleration, but the second one did me in, and the legs did not respond. Oh well. That was fun, and good training too.
Okay - home stretch solo. Two more time trial cyclists in aero bars passed me. I actually started drafting on the back of the second guy, which last about 20 seconds. His caves were huge and muscular! By now, I am feeling very hot and tired, and my shorts are started to chafe. Just a few more miles to Vanderbilt beach rd., hang in there!
After making the right turn onto VBRd. I decided to stop and stretch. That felt good to feel my bones release. I quickly looked behind me and saw a solo cyclist. I let him pass and I hopped back on my saddle to catch up to him and ride up next to him and say, "Hey do you mind if I draft behind you?" "No, I don't mind," he replied. Cool, one way to get home quicker. I had a feeling he'd keep a pace I could handle which he did. It was a nice tempo pace, and since I don't have a computer, I have no idea how fast we were going, but if I were to guess, I'd say 22mph. No problems with that pace to the corner, where he made a right which takes you toward the Wiggins State Park, then past La Playa. I continued straight to return the same way home, crossing 41 into Pelican Marsh. I thanked him.
This is the view from the bridge on Estero Blvd. after Lover's Key Resort before going into Ft. Myers Beach.
Lee and Collier county are happening places to ride and race. There are many large bike lanes where we are moving to in Cape Coral, and I look forward to exploring routes up north.
On a completely separate topic.....what's the deal with pro athletes and cheating? I mean really, in my eyes it's just sad. Not playing by the rules, and thinking you can get away with it. Tom reminds me of Lance in a way.
As a side note - I read a great article by coach Paul Yetter, about kids learning from making mistakes, especially in swimming. During a race, there are officials on deck, analyzing the swimmers to make sure that they are doing the strokes and turns correctly. If they do break a rule (such as using the wrong stroke mechanics, or turning improperly), the result is a DQ. What that means is, the coach and swimmer, work on fixing those mistakes at practice, and the swimmer gets an opportunity to learn and become better. It doesn't mean they are a "bad" swimmer, or they did a bad thing, it only means they need to practice on how to make their technique correct.
If you practice hard, and put in the effort, then there is no need to cheat and/or take short cuts. Be the best you can be and be happy. If you are not happy with your results, then train and practice differently.
I am not sure how fans and Tom can be happy with their results if he and his teammates felt that it was 'okay' to bend the rules.
Every sport has rules, and they are there for a reason. Golf, has so many rules, and even though I know people that don't think golf is a 'real' sport, it does has a place in the world of sports.
Cyclists and doping.......sure - they will do it to be competitive, but if you get caught, then you need to tell the truth, and not let the world think you raced clean and won, because in the end, he didn't win.